In my lifetime I have seen only a few book series take the world by storm: Harry Potter, Twilight, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and now The Hunger Games. The same friend who convinced me to read the Twilight books (and was kind enough to lend me all four) just gave me all three Hunger Games books. I always feel a little loser-ish reading these sci-fi themed novels, but The Hunger Games had me hooked in the first twenty pages and I began to carry it around with pride.
Book one, "The Hunger Games", tells the story of Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark, two teenagers forced to become partners in a life or death game. Let me give you some background. In these books the area formerly called the United States is now called Panem. It is ruled by a group called the Capitol and they preside over twelve districts. Seventy four years ago the districts tried to rise up against the Capitol and were defeated. Each year, as a reminder (and a punishment), the Capitol hosts what they called the Hunger Games, where two children from each of the twelve districts are selected (one boy and one girl) to compete in the games until there is only one person left standing. And by standing, I mean alive.
Katniss and Peeta are the two "tributes" chosen from district twelve and the book follows them from their selection, to their prep (they have mentors and stylists) and of course, their performance in the actual games.
I don't want to give anything away plot wise because the book is so spectacular. The author, Suzanne Collins, has created this detailed history of a country: the origin of Panem, the characteristics and topography of each of the twelve districts and the specific rules, regulations and rewards of the Hunger Games. I wish I had an imagination that powerful!
Additionally, the way Collins ends each chapter has you hurriedly flipping the page to begin the next one, knowing something tremendous is about to happen. I almost missed my T stop several times because I was so engrossed in the book!
I also appreciate the complexity of the character of Katniss. Her father died in a coal mining explosion and she was forced to provide for her family. She is tough, guarded and obstinate, until she begins to feel the warmth and nervousness of romance. Katniss is a "round character" as my high school English teacher would say and her flaws are what makes you root for her.
I am already eighty pages into the second book "Catching Fire" and can't wait to complete the entire series! A film version of "The Hunger Games" is currently in production starring Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss and Josh Hutcherson as Peeta Mellark. The release date is scheduled for March 23, 2012. Here's a sneak preview of Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss:
Have you read the books?